Can a person be too old to care for a cat? I think they can be. There are reasons for this. I was speaking with a neighbour the other day and she said, “I am worried my cats might outlive me.” I was surprised because she was only 65. But I see the point. If her cats are young and have 15 years ahead of them it would take her to 80, an age at which a person is at about the average maximum in the West.
The first “cat caretaker age related problem” is whether you’ll die before your cats. Who will look after them when your gone? I don’t want to be morbid but practical. There might not be a suitable person. I can’t think of one unless it is a PoC regular!
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A more pressing and immediate problem is the demands of looking after a domestic cat or cats to a high standard. There is quite a lot to do. What about taking your cat to the veterinarian? If you can’t drive anymore you’ll have to rely on someone else which is tricky or impossible. A lot of people are unable to drive safely at a certain age which is well before their death.
There are some physical demands such as keeping the litter tray clean. It is not that hard but when you get older you don’t see the mess so clearly. You can become neglectful. If the litter tray was left for too long it would be unfair on your cat. She may do it outside of the litter tray causing more problems which would be very difficult to deal with for an 80 year old person. This is more to do with standards really.
There is also the matter of the weight of the cat litter bag. For a fragile woman of 80+ it might be impossible to carry the bag and difficult to open it. There are a lot of tricky aspects to doing the cat litter tray for the average person in their 80s.
Of course it very much depends on the person. Some people are really perky at 85. However, I am basing this post on averages. Dementia is a big topic these days. You might struggle to do a good job of caring for your cat if you had early stage dementia as it can lead to general neglect both of self and the cat. Forget to change the water?
Food and water is another issue. Water needs changing daily. It is easy to forget that for a very elderly person. Cat food is heavy like cat litter and it can be difficult to open. Cans can be tricky and so can pouches.
If both the caretaker and the cat are geriatric the potential difficulties mount. Geriatric cats needs extra care and a watchful approach. Will an old person spot changes in behaviour? A change in cat behaviour is the primary way to diagnose health problems in our cats. If they are ignored it could affect the cat very substantially.
I am going to suggest that a good cat caretaker should be aware of the pitfalls of being a very elderly cat owner and ensure that they are able to make a rational decision about when it might be inappropriate to care for a domestic cat. Each person is different but if the average age of Americans and Europeans is around the 80+ mark, I’d have thought the mid 70s might be a time to consider one’s options.
Preparation and planning for the future is important because a caring cat caretaker would find it upsetting if she had to abandon her cats due to illness. There has to be a certain amount of foreseeing what is likely in the future.
One last point: it is possible for a blind person to care for several cats very successfully provided the person is committed and organised.
What do you think?